‘The Kim is Dead…Long Live the Kim’…

…As the newly late Christopher Hitchens said of the ascension of the also newly late Kim Jong-Il to his father’s premiership in 1994.*

It seems oddly fitting that they died within days of each other.

The death of the most famous modern example of ‘short man complex’, Kim Jong Il, this Saturday instigates another merry-go round of mourning as North Korea prepares for the arrival of more of the same in the shape of his son, Kim Jong Un in much the same way as his father took over power from his grandfather.

The dramatic scenes of public mourning may seem odd to the cynical Western observer who is unlikely to notice one of their leaders passing or only wish to dance on their grave but they are not immune to a cult of personality.

What is it about one person that can inspire such rapturous devotion? Especially in a country like North Korea: regarded as the world’s most dangerous ‘rogue state’ where the capital city, Pyongyang, only has light at night if there are foreign journalists in town and the people regularly starved as the elites indulge their taste for cigars and cognac.
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